Friday, April 30, 2010

don't think your work is done, chile

Miss. Height,

Is it true you could see
over the top our heads?
over our Sunday hats?
What did you see up there?
Ain't nothing special
down here.

Could you see the hundred years
of change in your country?
The century of your work
paying off?

Don't stop now chile,
just cause you kick the bucket
don't mean your done now, chile.

Is it true you gave advice
to Elenore Roosevelt
and told Eisenhower to let your brothers and sisters
go to school with whitey?
Is it true
you get black women in high up places
for Johnson?

Well I'll be...
You done so much already
why don't you take a rest
your coffin will be cushioned
and comfy with memories.
And all those freed hands you made
will brush your hair till
you fast asleep.

click them ruby slippers,
cause you callin' home now.
But don't think your work is done, chile.

Your biggest fan,

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Path Tomorrow

I am a new woman of this world
born at thirteen years old
in a world of shame
of a woman's face
i might as well be bare flesh.
they treat me as though
I'm naked.

I am fortunate in this life
to attend an all girls school
in a world of shame
of a woman's education
I might never leave the house
to tend to my husband
and flock of children.

I was walking to school
on a very hot sunny day
my friend and i were talking
about tulips.
We learned about tulips just yesterday.
They are beautiful, so fair and tropical.
Where only pale, small flowers grow
they might as well be alien.

The thunder of motorcycles
grew closer behind us.
Boys sometimes raced on our
long flat roads.
But just as they sped up,
they slowed down.
I shouldn't have looked.
I shouldn't have turned to face them.
Not everybody believes in this new world
where i can look at a man.
As i turned and looked,
men threw acid on my face
it dripped to my clothes
my friend caught some too
under the sun,
to the sound of thunder fading
we melted
in this new world.

Our parent's were hurt
and as scared as I was.
I wore the face unrecognized
by family I've known my entire life.
some stared,
I'm glad i could not see myself.
After several weeks of curing,
My friend and I returned to school.
My parent's demanded we take a different path
every day to school.
Do not let anyone know which way you will go.
The path today, wont be the path tomorrow.

The yard around the school
is unbeaten ground.
Every path in this new world
is the path less traveled by.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Marmalade Flies

Slate blue clean and cloudless skies
leafy shadows flickering sunshine
here and there grass lapping at my toes
A caterpillar inches over my knee
going far out of its way to pay visit.
I crane my neck upward, to the white hot
spot in the sky, drying out the sweat on my brow.
My hair is picked up by a finger breeze
and placed on my other cheek, gently.

I look out over the waving field
of grass being swept up with the winds.
I feel my shirt sleeve pinch
and what do you know
a butter fly made perch of my arm
It stretched its yellow wings,
open close
open close
Looked up at me
unfurled its proboscis
And kissed me
to thank me for lending it my shoulder.
In two flaps it was airborne
that yellow flutter by
that marmalade fly.
I watched it glide off
floating like a bubble in the open
yellow blue air that was so active that day.

My hair tossed about my head
as if I were in a warm tidal pool
shrunk to the size of a sea shell
floating helplessly in the living
earth around me
wet with beauty, dripping with happiness.
As I sunk to the bottom of this arid grotto,
my clothes became as alive as the rest of Earth.
Tens of butterflies matching my companion
came tumbling along in the gripping wind.
Then hundreds of orange and yellow buddies
filled the air with the perfection of life.
I lost count when they started chopping
up sun light like the waving tree branch above me.

I looked around me and it wasn't the breeze
shuffling about my clothes and hair
but the hundreds of feelers these bugs had.
I was covered in their tickling feet,
each grabbing for me as respite.
They looked just like my first friend,
the first butterfly, my marmalade fly,
yet I still missed him.

The storm of butterflies
carried on over head, filling the air with
golden streams of fall leaves
migrating for the spring.
I watched the field turn back to normal
with the last few
flitting into the distance, seeking their new home.
The air was once again empty,
the sun leaning its heavy head ever so slightly
looking at me all alone in his empty field,
he smiled and winked, I could have sworn,
just as something pinched the sleeve of my shirt.
I looked over and met a matching butterfly
staring up to me.
I knew it wasn't my friend from before
but it was just as yellow, and just as good.

We flocked into the future together
fluttering in the wind, as helpless as the rest.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Cicada Nights

As sun flickers
blown out by the moon
Afternoon pulls
covers up over its head
hiding from the monsters.
Like candelabrum lit
in a dark and distant hall
stars snap on.

When the cool night
chills the flakes of wings
clipped to the
Cicada's back
they chime in
the sound of heat
like the pang of
a shower too hot.

Brass streams
cut through
the hanging air
to my window
airing out my
muddled mind.

Then it stops.
The sound cuts off
as if some merciful
passer by shoved his thumb
in the piercing thing.
Momentary bliss washes over me
though prematurely
interrupted because
It will continue again
as if nothing ever happened

Cicada nights
storm my memory
of jarring lightning bugs
and netting flutters by
with my brother.
Gathering like medals
scrapes and bruises
on every joint.
By the end of
those summer days
we were well decorated
admirals of makeshift adventures.
All the while
the cicadas cadenced
our afternoon marches
into marmalade evening skies
and florid fuchsia sunsets.
When the moon complained
we're out too late
we dismounted our
tree limbs we rode like
landing on our knees
staining them green and brown.
We declined dinner
having sustained
our savage marooned
appetites on mud pies and worms,
we recounted our
backyard triumphs
and playground conquests.

Cicada nights
played throughout
our reluctant baths washing away
the proof of where we went
and what we saw that day.
As we laid for bed
the cicada chimed on
pausing for a cool breeze
and continuing again
as if nothing ever happened.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

April Showers

When in April
the showers fall,
soaking the red Earth,
they remember.

Sky rockets fly
Habyarimana falls
scattering hope
like stars across
the red universe.

Those dark skins
Hutu in truer African glory
Oppressed embarrassed
by pale skins to
their Tutsi family.

Like the sky falling
raining stars across
the red universe
The night concealed
family murdering
family murdering
family mur-

“Hide Tutsi scum
hide and we will find you
cowering under rocks
under cabinets
We will destroy your
homes that were our homes

Your whiter faces
once favored by pale races
are now the dregs of
our species.
Filth that must be cleaned
from our slate!”

One hundred days
times eight thousand lives
amounts to the loss
our human race suffered.

Fetid swamps were
muddy destroyed streets
within forests of the dead.
They say to never walk over graves
How can one avoid them now?

Identification cards required
If they do not read Hutu
if they do not look real
you know what to expect

Expect the sky to fall
in an April shower
of bullet casings
reminding you
and your family
how worthless you are.

When in April
the showers fall
soaking the red Earth.
The blood spills
and soaks deeper
than rain ever could
staining tracts
in memory.

The April storm
broke late June.
souls joined God
who chose every night
to sleep over his beautiful

When in April,
the showers fall,
soaking the red Earth
they remember.

Farmers of the Amarillo

Sun yellow sun-flower
button blossoms neck-to-neck
bumble bee, legs full of pollen
resting on my potted garden

fuzzy jacket with
cellophane wing
keeping afloat antennae
keeping aloft nature

forest of happy-faced
yellow faces, pettals lining
future nectar. Butter
creatures cream this
happy crop

pick this bouquet
but wait till they're done
soon, these farmers of the Amarillo
wont farm.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Mistaken Identity

Mistaken Identity
For Quincy

Because you are black
you are not who you think you are
you are every scary unpredictable planned problem
in America.
Because you are black
a hand hovers like vibrant tension in the room
keeping you in place servicing the rest of us who
might not deserve it.
Because you are black
You write your words small in your tiny booth
letting children cross your heart- hope to die- take this message only I
can hear.
Why are you here?
Zobona bayabaleka!
What can you expect?
Ninga dinwa!
Make the wind hear your voice
fuck work and the rest of the noise
you're forced to hear!
Siya ba bona!
Walk down your sidewalk
strip your uniform
Ibala lami
wear only what God gave you to wear
your skin dark as night is warm
Ndiya zidla ngalo
They will shoot to kill
a matched description
Bebe fun' ukusi xeda
and you will die
Ngeke ba lunge
a mistaken identity.
And you will die!
Sizo nqoba!
A mistaken identity.